U.S. supermarkets are suffering from stock-outs and photos of empty shelves are trending on Twitter, where shoppers are sharing images of bare shelves. The pandemic, transportation problems, adverse weather and changes in eating habits are the reasons behind the lack of supplies.
The new variant of the coronavirus has dented efforts throughout the pandemic to improve supply chain deficiencies, so as the massive spread of the new strain continues, there will be more supply problems in the next four to six weeks.
Worker casualties caused by omicron, which already accounts for 60% of the world’s total infections, have caused staff shortages. Contagions, quarantines and distancing protocols have impacted production.
The trucking industry, meanwhile, has a rapidly aging workforce and shortages. A problem that has been dragging on for the past few years.
Truckers prefer to work delivering packages in their hometown and sleep in their bed every day, rather than live on the road and return home once a fortnight. Not to mention that the investment in a delivery van is a small fraction of the cost of one of the huge trucks that deliver goods across the country every day.
And a third factor to take into account is that at this time of year, inclement weather causes constant problems for the transport and distribution network. The recent snowfall has slowed everything down a bit, so that, in addition to the two previous factors, the just-in-time distribution system is failing these days.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is that in the face of these one-off supply failures, consumers are panic buying, hoarding all the product available on the shelves, which in turn increases the feeling of shortages which, again, generates panic buying.
Supermarkets are fighting shortages by trying to distribute products and putting both varieties and limited quantities of each product on sale.